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My Ode to Oakland

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I’m an A’s fan – but I wasn’t always.

Let me be clear, I’ve always been an A’s fan, but I haven’t always been a baseball fan. Cue the cliché. Growing up, I thought baseball was a bit boring; both of my brothers played it and I even tried for a few years (I posted a career 2.5 WARP for those playing at home). But for whatever reason I just didn’t get it. Some people fall for the game immediately; for me it took some time.

I’d be lying if I said the home run race in ‘98 between McGwire and Sosa didn’t truly bring me into the sport, but so much more about the game has kept me since then. I grew up in a house that followed both sides of the Bay, mostly thanks to my Dad. He’s the kind of guy who hates inter-league play, not because it’s awful (which it is), but instead because he hates watching the A’s play the Giants. He can’t stand the drama. Unfortunately for him, drama is what the A’s are all about these days.

From the highs of 20 straight wins and three AL West titles in four years, to the lows of 4 consecutive ALDS departures, the A’s are a team that makes you pay for loving them. Recent case in point: the conclusion of the 2012 season.

Down five games with nine left to play, the A’s sealed their first trip the post season since 2006 and claimed their first AL West title since 2004 – all on the last day of the season. Then, after coming back from an 0-2 start in the ALDS, they were ousted again by the crusher-of-dreams: Justin Verlander. Leave it to him to return in 2013 and repeat this devastation.

Only adding to the drama these days is the current state of the A’s stadium. The O.Co is potentially the worst venue in all of baseball and, without any insights from the Bud Selig Blue Ribbon Committee, it stands to stay that way for the foreseeable future. And yet I still can’t help but love the feeling of getting off BART and seeing this concrete behemoth awaiting me.

While it’s probably just nostalgia at this point, the O.Co feels like home. No one willingly shows up there to enjoy the view of Mount Davis. There aren’t any iconic Bay Bridge views or Coca Cola slides; only baseball awaits. And boy isn’t it some quality baseball these days.

After 61 games the A’s stand atop the American League with a record of 42-27. They have scored the second-most runs (without the benefit of playing in Colorado) and allowed the fewest runs, all while racking up an absurd +132 run differential. Simply put, the A’s have the strongest pitching staff and most explosive offense in the Bigs. With the most wins dating back to 2012, it’s crazy to think that all of this is being done on the sixth smallest budget in baseball. And the best part? The A’s are still just a squad of relatively unknowns.

Expectations are high for the A’s for the remainder of 2014. And despite some concerns about the bullpen, the A’s are primed for a deep playoff run. Will I lose another few years off of my life watching them play another five game series against Detroit? Maybe; yet I’ll always come back for more.

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